•There are over 100 flower farms in the country with Naivasha hosting the majority.
• The sector employs over 150,000 workers and Holland remains the main market for flowers
Flower exports have increased from twenty to sixty-five percent in the last one month after some European Union member countries relaxed their lockdown regulations.
The Kenya Flower Council (KFC) is optimistic that production will hit 80 percent by the end of the year as the sector recovers from the crisis caused by Covid-19 pandemic.
However even as maters look up, the council has accused the government of playing politics with their VAT refunds a move that has adversely affected their plans of returning to full business by June 2021.
According to KFC chief executive officer Clement Tulezi, the farmers were owed Sh4.2B and two months after President announced that Sh10B had been set aside for the refunds they were yet to get a penny.
“Some of these statements have turned to be political rhetoric and we have called KRA who says that they have not received any cash from Treasury,” he said.
He said getting adequate cargo space is also posing a challenge and sought government intervention for more cargo planes.
“Currently our weekly demand is 2,800 tonnes per week but we can only export 1,000 tonnes due to lack of flights and the high charges,” he said.
Tulezi said that they expected exports to hit 80 percent by the end of the year as various EU countries reopen their markets.
“We have been one of the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic and we project that we shall return to normal business by mid next year,” he said.
Tulezi said that fifty percent of permanent staff were back on duty adding that employers hope to bring more back
“Flower farmers did not sack any workers but they were sent home on unpaid leave and we have started the process of getting them back as demand for flowers rise,” he said.
Earlier, Jack Kneppers the owner of Maridadi flower farm said that they were shipping out flowers four times a week unlike in the past when daily production went to waste.
The Naivasha based farmer attributed this to the reopening of the Dutch auction and some supermarkets in Europe where they shipped the majority of their flowers.
“At the moment we are shipping out over 50 percent to the European market and disposing around 20 percent on the days that demand is low,” he said.